Courses Tibetan Buddhism
Lama Thubten Yeshe
Lama Tzong Khapa Institute organizes regular courses on a wide range of subjects related to Tibetan Buddhism. These courses take place on weekends and holidays.
The courses on Tibetan Buddhism are:
of varying lengths – a single session to a series of weekends,
of varying levels – introductory, intermediate, and advanced,
taught either by a Tibetan master or a Western teacher,
always taught or translated into Italian, and often also taught or translated into English.
Weekend courses usually begin Friday evening at 21.00 and end on Sunday at 12.30.
Buddhism is a spiritual path with detailed teachings and meditational techniques for developing lasting happiness for ourselves and others. This immense potential is in-born in all beings and can be found in the nature of the mind itself. Through thorough analysis directly understanding our minds and reality, a specific wisdom comes about. This wisdom and the full cultivation of our positive qualities lead to genuine happiness, with no suffering, and the ability to wisely serve and help others; or Buddhahood. The exact path to enlightenment varies between different Buddhist schools but all traditions acknowledge the wisdom of inter-dependence and emptiness (shunyata), cultivate compassion and love, take refuge and teach the Four Noble Truths.
Founded in Bodhgaya, India in the 4th to 6th centuries BCE, Buddhism had all but disappeared in India by the Middle Ages, flourishing instead throughout Sri Lanka, Tibet, Mongolia, China, Japan, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Korea and South East Asia. In the last 60 years Buddhism has found many interested followers in the West. Currently an estimated 350 million to 1 billion of the Earth’s population consider themselves Buddhist practitioners. Today Buddhism is considered the fourth-largest religion in the world after Christianity, Islam, and Hinduism.
Who is a Buddhist varies enormously between country and community making exact calculation of practitioners difficult, but a Buddhist is commonly defined by the taking of refuge in the Three Jewels: the Buddha (the teacher), the Dharma (the teachings of the Buddha), and the Sangha (the Buddhist community). Meditation, the cultivation of wisdom and discernment, the study of scriptures, taking ethical precepts, devotional practices, ceremonies and rituals, and in the Mahayana tradition, an invocation of buddhas and bodhisattvas are all included as Buddhist practices.
It is the Buddhism of the Tibetan Gelug Tradition, sometimes called Vajrayana Mahayana Buddhism. Our founder Lama Thubten Yeshe described it very simply:
“Although different people have different views of what Buddhism is…I can say that Buddhism is different from what most Westerners consider to be religion. First of all when you study Buddhism you’re studying yourself—the nature of your body, speech, and mind—the main emphasis being on the nature of your mind and how it works in everyday life. So why is it important to know the nature of our own mind? Since we all want happiness, enjoyment, peace, and satisfaction and these things do not come from ice cream but from wisdom and the mind, we have to understand what our mind is and how it works. If you want true peace, happiness and joy, you need to realize that happiness and satisfaction come from within you and stop searching so fanatically outside. You can never find real happiness out there. Whoever has?”
Overview of Courses of Buddhism
Buddhism in a Nutshell is an FPMT program that consists in a single weekend of classes and meditation sessions that provide a broad overview of Buddhism in general and the Buddhist tradition of Tibet in particular. The course focuses on the nature of the mind; ‘the four noble truths,’ the Buddha’s renowned teaching that sets out the causes of difficulties and problems and their solutions; and the two spiritual ‘wings’ of compassion and wisdom. It also provides a very brief introduction to meditation. This course is suitable for people completely new to Buddhism. It is taught in Italian, and takes place at Istituto Lama Tzong Khapa approximately every second month.
Discovering Buddhism is an FPMT program that consists of 13 teaching modules taught in 13 weekends over a two-year period, accompanied by a 14th practice module that consists of specific individual spiritual practices that students can engage in wherever and whenever they wish. The 13 teaching modules provide a clear and structured presentation of the key elements of the spiritual path of Tibetan Buddhism with a view to providing participants with a basis for further study and enabling them to establish a personal meditation practice. While it would be ideal to do all 13 teaching modules in the order in which they are presented, it is possible to participate in any number of modules and to do them in any order. Discovering Buddhism is mainly taught in Italian at ILTK, although some weekends are taught in English and translated into Italian over FM radio. Discovering Buddhism is available as an online program in Italian from ILTK, and is available as an on-line program in English from the FPMT
Living in the Path is an FPMT program based on a teachings given over a period of several years by Lama Zopa Rinpoche on Atisha’s Lamp for the Path to Enlightenment. It consists of video, audio, and text materials drawn from these teachings and supplemented by materials from the archive of Lama Yeshe’s teachings. When taught at a center, it is led by a facilitator who is familiar with Lama Zopa Rinpoche’s and Lama Yeshe’s teaching styles. It is offered as an on-line program in English from the FPMT. It will be offered in Italian at Lama Tzong Khapa Institute in 2012/13.
Wisdom & Compassion: The True Source of Genuine Happiness is an annual course developed by Lama Tzong Khapa Institute that covers the key topics of Mahayana Buddhism, beginning with the four noble truths up to the development of the complementary wings of wisdom and compassion. Classes are held Monday to Friday, accompanied by daily sessions of meditation and ample time for discussion and questions. On Saturdays, participants are taken to visit the beautiful countryside and historic cities of Tuscany. The course is offered exclusively by Lama Tzong Khapa Institute and is taught entirely in English.
Our residential teachers regularly teach on the weekend. We also offer weekend, week-long, 10 day and monthly retreats, as well as courses and initiations led by visiting teachers. Please see our calendar for all activities for the up-and-coming months.
*It is to be noted that although the intermediate programs offered by Istituto Lama Tzong Khapa are generally not more difficult than the introductory programs on Buddhism and meditation (such as Buddhism in a Nutshell, Meditation 101, and Advice for Death and Dying), they provide a much more detailed and in-depth presentation of the entire spiritual path as described in Tibetan Buddhism.